September 27, 2022

Lawyer’s $2,465 hourly level attracts objection in J&J talc bankruptcy circumstance

Lawyer Neal Katyal is seen in entrance of the U.S. Supreme Courtroom constructing soon after arguing a case right before the court docket in Washington, U.S., November 4, 2014. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

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  • Trustee balked at Neal Katyal’s rate
  • J&J spinoff in talc liability fight wishes Katyal and his law firm Hogan Lovells on board for appeals

(Reuters) – The United States is objecting to a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary’s bid to incorporate Hogan Lovells spouse Neal Katyal to its legal crew in a higher-stakes personal bankruptcy situation, citing his hourly level of $2,465 — a possible new legal industry significant.

Johnson & Johnson is making use of the proceedings to try to take care of promises that its newborn powder and other talc-primarily based merchandise brought about most cancers. The enterprise, which maintains the products are secure, in October assigned 1000’s of talc lawsuits to a new subsidiary, LTL Administration LLC, and put it in individual bankruptcy.

The U.S. trustee in the Chapter 11 situation on Friday questioned a federal bankruptcy choose in New Jersey to block LTL from retaining Katyal, calling his hourly price “significantly higher” than that of associates from the seven other regulation firms currently associated in the case.

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LTL questioned the judge for approval to add Katyal to its authorized staff previously this thirty day period, citing his and Hogan Lovells’ abilities in federal appeals. Numerous talc claimants have appealed the February ruling that permitted LTL’s individual bankruptcy to move ahead.

Partner billing prices at massive regulation companies are regarded as competitive business enterprise information and facts and are normally not community. But they are disclosed in some courtroom filings, especially in bankruptcy circumstances where by a debtor’s legal fees must be permitted by a decide.

Katyal’s hourly amount would rank between the maximum publicly obtainable figures in the authorized marketplace. Former U.S. lawyer typical Eric Holder Jr, a husband or wife at Washington, D.C.-dependent Covington & Burling, past yr billed at $2,295 an hour in accordance to a deal the business signed with an Oregon college to conduct a place of work lifestyle investigation.

Lynn LoPucki, a professor at the University of California at Los Angeles College of Law who tracks personal bankruptcy conditions, claimed Monday that Katyal’s charge of just about $2,500 is the greatest he has noticed.

Katyal, a former performing U.S. solicitor basic who has argued dozens of instances before the U.S. Supreme Court docket, declined to remark on the objection Monday. Hogan Lovells did not straight away react to requests for remark. The trustee, Andrew Vara, declined to remark through a Justice Office spokeswoman, and reps for Johnson & Johnson did not answer to requests for comment.

According to the trustee’s objection, the hourly price among the LTL’s legal professionals from Jones Working day topped out at $1,350. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom billed as superior as $1,195 Weil, Gotshal & Manges’ leading price was $1,579 and Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe’s was $1750. Legal professionals from King & Spalding and Shook, Hardy & Bacon are also representing LTL.

The trustee formerly sought to disqualify both of those Jones Day and Skadden from LTL’s legal group simply because they depict Johnson & Johnson in other matters, but the exertion was unsuccessful.

Top permitted billing charges in bankruptcy situations have been creeping towards the $2,000 mark in excess of the past 12 months. Kirkland & Ellis’ spouse hourly billing charge hit $1,895 in three individual 2021 bankruptcies, even though Simpson Thacher & Bartlett associates charged up to $1,850 for every hour in the bankruptcy of Chilean bank holding enterprise Corp Group Banking SA very last year.

The circumstance is LTL Management LLC, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey, No. 21-30589.

For LTL: Greg Gordon of Jones Day

For Talc Claimants Committee I: David Molton of Brown Rudnick Melanie Cyganowski of Otterbourg Daniel Stolz of Genova Burns Brian Glasser of Bailey & Glasser Lenard Parkins of Parkins Lee & Rubio and Jonathan Massey of Massey & Gail

For Talc Claimants Committee II: Cullen Drescher Speckhart of Cooley

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